The Empty Man

Posted in Audio by - December 07, 2023
The Empty Man

Released December 2023


As the TARDIS lands just in time for the Doctor, Charley, and Audacity to experience another Christmas season in ‘The Empty Man’ by Tim Foley, the three quickly cross paths with the famed writer and radio purveyor of ghost stories, Eldridge Brinkwood, as they pursue an ethereal horror that they just may have invited into this universe.

Playing off the long, cold nights of winter, the telling of ghost stories is a grand Christmas tradition that offers a startling contrast to the general sense of love and warmth so often associated with the holiday proper. With a name assuredly playing off the adjective eldritch that imbues a ghostly or ominous quality to horrors, Eldridge has made a career out of creating and narrating horrors for people to enjoy and fear in equal measure. Although he knows that his auditory tales are fleeting, however, he yearns to leave an impact on those around him through his chosen words, and the glimpses of the life he has led and could have led as he learns that the Doctor has no knowledge of him despite his obvious popularity offer a tremendously human and empathetic figure who has unknowingly found himself the target of an unfathomable creature who has likewise taken on his own form to haunt and pursue him. As befitting of the imagination needed to craft such stories, Eldridge is demonstrably open-minded as he must quickly overcome his fear of strangers and stepping outside of his comfort zone while fleeing for his life, and the remorseful but hopeful story with mortality at its core that Nickolas Grace so wonderfully conveys is a stirring complement to the bevy of emotions supporting the unique blend of ending and renewal that the end of the year always brings with it.

Unfortunately, the unknown horror that seemingly latched onto Charley as the TARDIS traveled through a little-explored region of the vortex ends up being something of a weaker component of the script overall as it remains rather ill-defined beyond its mimicking properties for much of the script until a more momentous and emotional climax, the story often relying simply on this figure’s ever-encroaching presence to continue forward. While this format still could have created a sense of unyielding and amplifying tension and hopelessness, however, the script instead backs off of its initial breakneck pace to interject flashbacks and copious exposition that instead creates something of a more unbalanced and less immediate sense of threat than may have otherwise resulted. Still, the visual nature of this threat is immense and absolutely helps to accentuate the overall mystery and the depth of Eldridge’s tragic tale.

The previous story in In the Bleak Midwinter wonderfully showcased the tremendous chemistry that India Fisher and Jaye Griffiths quickly developed even if their characters were given relatively little to do, and ‘The Empty Man’ continues to solidify the dynamic sisterly relationship between Charley and Audacity. Importantly given the times that they both come from and boldly pointing out just how much one can become numb to while traveling with the Doctor, Audacity- who is more than willing to state out lout what might otherwise remain unspoken- is more than willing to call out Charley for so casually accepting the existence of two world wars, the first hint of conflict between the two but one that nonetheless seems to bring the two even closer as Charley finds herself appreciative of having someone to look out for her as she again guides Audacity through this new and manic life. Paul McGann is likewise excellent as his Doctor who is still reeling from earlier events throws himself into this mystery fully while showing a sharp incisiveness and wonderful empathy that highlights the very best of his character. This is another story in which the focal guest character receives the bulk of the characterization, but it’s clear that this trio will be a formidable one that will hopefully continue to feature for many stories to come. ‘The Empty Man’ just about manages to overcome the nebulous nature of its threat as well as its somewhat disjointed tone and structure, in the process creating another memorable and haunting festive adventure for this incarnation of the Doctor who seems to be so intrinsically drawn to them.

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